Sheikh Jarrah families reject ‘unfair’ agreement with Israeli settlers | Occupied East Jerusalem News

Palestinians facing forced eviction from a hotspot neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem have rejected an agreement that would have seen them accept the temporary ownership of their home by an Israeli settlement organization.

The four families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood near Jerusalem’s Old Quarter said their decision on Tuesday stems from “our belief in the justice of our cause and our right to our home and our homeland.”

They said that instead of submitting to an “unfair deal”, they would rely on the “Palestinian street” to create international awareness of their situation.

The long-running case has been a regular source of tension across the occupied territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Protests earlier this year over the case helped trigger an 11-day war between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.

In October, the Israeli Supreme Court proposed a deal that would have seen four Palestinian families stay in their homes for 15 years as “protected tenants,” while paying rent to settlers who have claimed the land.

The court gave the families until November 2 to decide if they would accept.

“We unanimously rejected the solution offered by the Israeli occupation court,” Muna el-Kurd, one of the Palestinians facing eviction, told a news conference.

“This refusal comes from our belief in the justice of our cause and our rights to our home and homeland,” said el-Kurd, wearing a jacket adorned with the words “No Fear.” She was flanked by other residents.

A statement from the families in Arabic and English was circulated on social media, stating that the Israeli judiciary is forcing them to “choose between our own possession or to submit to an oppressive agreement”.

The agreement would have required the Palestinians to recognize the settlers’ claims to land on which their families have lived for generations – a condition they have long rejected. It would also have given them the right to prove ownership in the future.

The agreement “could have given Palestinian families the relative potential security – in the opinion of some people – of being able to stay in their homes,” said Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, speaking from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

“But what it did not give them is what they have been fighting for in the Israeli courts for so long, which is recognition of their ownership of this land.”

‘Living on borrowed time’

The four families are among dozens in Jerusalem, which is threatened with forced eviction by Jewish settler organizations in several cases that have worked their way through the Israeli legal system for decades.

The settlers make use of an Israeli law that allows them to claim properties that were owned by Jews before the war in 1948 that led to the creation of Israel. Palestinians who lost homes, property and land in the same conflict have no right to get them back.

There was no immediate comment from the settlers, but Jerusalem’s deputy mayor Arieh King, a staunch supporter of the settlers, said they had accepted the offer.

The families, who were originally forced from cities and towns in 1948, say the Jordanian government gave them the land in the 1950s, on which their homes were later built in exchange for their refugee status, after Jordan took control of the West Bank and East. . Jerusalem in 1948. They have lived there ever since.

Settlers claim the land is theirs and presented 19th-century documents as evidence in Israeli courts.

Palestinians, however, have claimed the documents were fabricated and have not expressed any faith in the Israeli legal system, which they say favors Jewish Israelis.

Israel has portrayed the case as a private property conflict, but the Palestinians and human rights groups see it as a coordinated attempt to push Palestinian residents out of Jerusalem, erase their presence and change the city’s identity. The United States has spoken out against the case, saying it undermined efforts to eventually revive the long-dormant peace process.

According to Fawcett, the Israeli court has few options.

“Israel applies its own law in East Jerusalem because it sees it as part of its own territory, and then the Supreme Court does not have much room for maneuver,” Fawcett explained.

“It seems to do more than recognize the ownership of the land as belonging to the Israeli settler group and therefore enforce a deferral. If it decides in that way, the ball is in the court of the Israeli government. time, but from that moment on, the families will live on borrowed time. ”

The families, he added, said it would then be up to popular resistance and international pressure to ensure their rights are upheld.

Israel conquered East Jerusalem along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the war of 1967. The Palestinian leadership wants all three territories to form their future state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem shortly after the 1967 war and considers the entire city its capital, a claim not recognized by most of the international community.

The threatened evictions were one of the main drivers behind protests that erupted in Jerusalem in April and May.

A decision on the fate of the families has been repeatedly delayed since May, after the case received international attention and the hashtag “#SaveSheikhJarrah” gained momentum abroad.

The Israeli rights group Ir Amim has said that the Israeli government has various tools at its disposal to delay or stop the postponements, but so far it has not shown any indication that it plans to do so.

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